Chipper Jones and 8 Other Superstars You Won't See Play Again After 2012
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Chipper Jones announced on Thursday that the 2012 season will be his last with the Atlanta Braves, and majors. Soon to turn 40 and with a pair of bad knees, his body just isn't willing to go along for the 162-game grind of a baseball season (and perhaps a postseason).
But Jones might not be the only former superstar who decides to retire after this season. Several longtime major leaguers are likely to end their stellar careers, whether they reach that decision on their own or the team makes the choice for them.
Here are eight players whom you might want to take one last look at, since you probably won't be seeing them on the field in 2013.
Rivera hasn't officially said he's retiring yet, deferring an announcement until the All-Star break. But all roads point to him making that decision. The New York Yankees' closer has spoken of wanting to express his appreciation to fans around baseball and to let them say goodbye.
Rivera's contract runs out at the end of the season, and he will turn 43 before the end of the year. His 603 saves are the most in the history of the sport. There is little else he can achieve, except maybe win one more World Series championship.
Thome reached 600 home runs last season with the Minnesota Twins. At the end of August, the 41-year-old was traded to the Cleveland Indians, giving him an opportunity for a farewell to the first team, city and fans he knew as a major leaguer. This year, he'll take a similar goodbye tour with the Philadelphia Phillies, with whom he had two of his best seasons.
He signed with the Phillies for the bargain price of $1.25 million, with the knowledge that he would be a bench player at best. But like Rivera, he has one last shot at a World Series ring.
Pettitte coming out of retirement was the surprise of the spring. Set to turn 40 in June, he decided to take Brian Cashman up on his offer to help out the Yankees' pitching staff one last time. Pettitte may not be in the team's starting rotation to begin the year, but he could be one heck of a reinforcement later in the season when arms tire out.
If he's successful, maybe he'll decide to stick around one more season. But Pettitte could also go out on a high note.
This is a sadder case than the other players listed so far. Morneau has been struggling with concussion issues and has encountered repeated setbacks while attempting to return. The former AL MVP has played in only 150 games over the past two seasons, and said he's not willing to torture himself if he continues to have problems. A .091 average this spring might indicate he's losing that battle.
Helton is coming off a rebound season in which he hit .302/.385/.466 with 14 homers and 69 RBI. But the Colorado Rockies' first baseman has alternated good performances with bad over the past four seasons. If that pattern continues, Helton might be in for some struggles this year.
He has two years left on his contract (with money deferred all the way to 2023) and five million reasons to play next season. But, Helton will turn 39 in August. If his recurring back problems return and his production suffers, he might decide it's time to hang it up.
Abreu put up his worst numbers as a full-time player in 2011, batting .253/.353/.365 with five home runs and 78 RBI. If the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim could trade him, they surely would and clear a space in their lineup for a younger player like Mike Trout.
But outside of releasing Abreu, the Halos are probably stuck with him and the $9 million they owe him this season. After his contract runs out, other teams might not be interested in a .250 hitter with clearly diminishing skills.
Designated hitters who hit fewer than 15 home runs and can't even play in 100 games aren't worth $13 million. That's what the Cleveland Indians will pay Hafner this season, and if they decide to pick up his option for next year, they'll have to pay him that amount again.
The Tribe look to be on the rise after last season's turnaround, but have some definite holes in their roster. The money owed to Hafner could be used to fill those holes, and general manager Chris Antonetti surely knows that.
This might be the unlikeliest of the players listed to retire after the season. Berkman experienced a revival, slugging 31 homers with 94 RBI. And with Albert Pujols' defection to the Angels, he has a starting first-base job with the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals.
But before his resurgence, he looked like a player who might be done. Berkman signed for only one year with the Cards, and if he can't repeat his 2011 performance, both sides might decide to move on. Rather than look for another team, Berkman might opt to call it a career.
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